You can keep leftover cherry leaves in the fridge as they are preserved in salt.
Soak the salted cherry leaves in a bowl of water to remove excess salt, and drain.
Roll the sweet bean paste into 4 to 5 balls.
First, combine the shiratama-ko, sugar and salt, and dissolve in the water. (If you dissolve the two flours together at once, the mixture tends to be lumpy.) I don't add much sugar into the dough.
Add the flour and dissolve. Put the food coloring on the tip of a chopstick, tap it against the rim of the mixing bowl and to drop into the batter. Use a tiny bit of the food coloring.
Mix together, and check the color. If it's not pink enough, add a bit more.
Stop adding the food coloring when you think it's still a bit light. Sakura mochi looks more elegant with a lighter pink color.
Set the electric griddle to 160℃. Fill a ladle up to about 80% with the batter, and pour onto the electric griddle and shape into ovals. Once you've poured on the batter, set the electric griddle on the low-heat "warming" setting.
They are done when the surfaces become dry. Don't flip them over, but transfer directly onto parchment paper to cool (with the baked side facing down!!).
When cooled, place the mochi so the nicer-looking side faces outwards (with the other, less attractive side on the inside), wrap the sweet bean paste balls in the dough, and then wrap with the cherry leaves on the outside.
Story Behind this Recipe
I'm from Kanagawa prefecture and I grew up with this Kanto-style sakura mochi. But in Hokkaido, where I am now, they normally sell Domyoji mochi and I can't buy the kanto-style sakura mochi. I want to eat the kanto-style sakura mochi, so I make them myself every year around this time.
Electric griddles are convenient as their cooking temperatures are stable and you won't have to worry too much about over- or undercooking the batter. If you can't be bothered to use the electric griddle, you can make it using a frying pan. I used store-bought anko, but use homemade if you'd like. You can make it using only the flour, but it will be nice and chewy if you add shiratamako.